Rayon Nelson - "Memories"

No matter what I'm doing, no matter where I am, I will be in the mood for this song. "Memories" is the London based artist's first single of 2017 and it's an absolute gem. It's warmth wraps you fully, but the track'ssimplicity is it's greatest strength, instantly putting you in a daze that you'd be a fool to want to break away from.

Rayon's soulful nature comes with ease, as natural as anything I've ever heard in recent memory. His soft guitar work and dream inducing vocals are addictive, and thankfully we'll have a few more tracks to work with later this year, as he's set to release his debut EP. Stay tuned, it's going to be worth our time. 

JAYLIEN - "Lucky Guy"

Despite it's July 2016 release, JAYLIEN's Summer's Over EP didn't drift into my line of site until early 2017. I wish I could say I was on top of things right away, but...better late than never. And maybe it was better it happened this way, as my consumption of R&B from summer until the new year consisted of Frank Ocean and other artists who I wished were Frank Ocean. In other words, my patience for anything else was severely limited. Thatchanged (kind of), and when I finally got around to Summer's Over I definitely regretted waiting so long. 

JAYLIEN's style is more traditional than not, but his command of said style makes it feel like he's a seasoned pro. His slick delivery and knack for hooks back up the consistently solid production, so it was no surprise when this single "Lucky Guy," had me on board immediately. The atmosphere is unique, and I love the last 45 seconds or so (when it feels like he channels a bit of Kanye's "I'm In It"); the percussions hit heavy while the synths add a layer of steadiness, but it's never too much leaving JAYLIEN himself to be front and center. 

The Dip - "Sure Don't Miss You"

I am ALWAYS down for a finely tuned retro groove and this definitely fits that description. This seven piece Seattle outfit has that timeless soul sound down pat, bleeding life through the speakers. Their 2015 self titled debut was one of the best surprises of 2015 and their all instrumental follow up EP Won't Be Coming Back was amazing as well. There's something to be said about groups like this, they might not be pushing the genre forward or challenging your ears, but their sound will ALWAYS come through when you need it to, and there's nothing better than a mood you can count on. 

"Sure Don't Miss You" is their first single of 2017 and it's one that I'll be pushing all summer long. I don't even know what to say other than this track is fun. It's FUN. What else is there?? It's got a steady, upbeat guitar line backed by their killer horn section and held together by Tom Eddy's clean vocals. I love this track and I can't wait for the new record!!

Celeste - "Milk & Honey"

It's easier to be excited about singles then it is to be excited about artists. Singles are separate entities, they stand alone, body of work and continuity don't play a part, it's very much a here and now take. I say this because when I first heard Celeste earlier this year (she released her single "Daydreaming" in 2016but I didn't get to it until 2017 and I'm SORRY) she was just a single to me; an amazing single, but a single nonetheless. Jump cut to March and now I'm sitting with a three song EP, The Milk & The Honey, that solidifies it, she's more than a single, I am excited about this ARTIST.

"Milk & Honey" was what changed it, it's a slow burn from start to finish and let me tell you it is SMOOTH. The sparse percussions, the steady synths, and atmospheric backing vocals all work to hold her subtle vocal dominance. She doesn't have to do anything to command our attention, once she opens her mouth to sing I'm in. It's that simple. And I don't see that confidence in her ability waining anytime soon. I don't know what her next steps are, but I will say, tune in now for what should be a compelling next few years.

Earl St. Clair - My Name Is Earl

WELCOME BACK TO ME. I say that because, and I KNOW you've noticed, I have not been very active on the site outside of a few major posts regarding awards shows (Grammys / Oscars). Well, I'm back now baby, I had to all thanks to Earl St. Clair's debut EP, My Name Is Earl. While I've been working largely with down tempo and classical sounds, this has broken me free from the tyranny of comfort sounds, it's time to explore again. Adventure is out there! 

Earl St. Clair is a bluesy swiss army knife. In this seven song EP he delves into all aspects of the genre: classic, soul, funk, gospel, etc. and it all feels oh-sooo-fine. The opening track, "Pain," instantly reels you in with it's moody rawness. I loved it. It's the kind of song where you KNOW the live performance is absolute fire. The album doesn't let up there, especially during the lively four song stretch of tracks three through six. "Criminal" gets the feet tapping, but once the combo of the funk heavy "Bad Love" and summer time jam "Feeling Alive" hit you've got no choice but to groove.

Earl's got it all, and it's not hard to hear. You feel it from beginning to end. If he can expand this great an output into a full length release there's going to be no stopping this guy. The fact that I need to personally thank him for slapping me back to reality makes My Name Is Earl that much more important. Good God almighty, this is the real deal baby!

Arcade Fire - "I Give You Power (feat. Mavis Staples)"

They sure know how to make an entrance don't they? Not only does their sound come at you from a completely different angle, they actually transfer the bulk of the vocals to soul songstress Mavis Staples, who doesn't waste the opporunity, taking the Arcade Fire's first single in four years to new heights.

"I Give You Power" actually sounds like something out of Gorillaz's playbook, featuring a heavy backbeat and power synths creating an electro-industrial vibe (though not to the effect of say...Nine Inch Nails). Speaking of Gorillaz, who also released a new single today, this song is also aimed at the man who will, as of tomorrow, find himself in the most powerful position in the world. 

If you recognize the song, it's because they've been teasing it in live shows since last year, though it becomes a new kind of animal with the addition of Mavis. Welcome back Arcade Fire, 2017 could use a little more of you. 

Khalid - "Saved"

Khalid saw his stock blow up last May at the release of his first single "Location." The track instantly catapulted him into the spotlight, which is pretty much the best case scenario when you're an 18 year old who only started making music the year before. Following that he put out a string of singles, and while they didn't reach the peaks that "Location" found, it cemented his potential. 

It seems he's going to continue to further that sentiment, starting off 2017 with another strong single. "Saved" follows the same laid back, soulful vibes that we were all so drawn to in the beginning. For being so young and relatively new to the music scene he's been remarkably consistent, a trend that I see continuing for quite some time. He keeps everything relatively simple, allowing us to lose ourselves in the mood before we've even decided if we want to. Not bad Khalid, not bad at all. 

Celeste - "Daydreaming"

Hot DAMN. Seriously. This single came out last October, and I can't believe I'm only now hearing it. But judging by Spotify's play count it seems that everyone is in the same spot I am. I don't know why this song hasn't received the love that needs to be adjusted, quickly.

Through a bit of research I found that she was the featured vocalist on TIEKS 2014 single "Sing That Song," which is a jam, but I would never have put two and two together (shoutout to Stagedoor FM for the info). So welcome back Celeste! "Daydreaming" carries a much different vibe than the dance heavy TIEKS single, opting instead for a relaxed, soulful vibe. However her vocals are anything but relaxed, sitting somewhere in between Amy Winehouse and Jill Scott, the LA born singer is a powerhouse. 

"Daydreaming" doesn't just demand our attention, it deserves it. 

KAMAU - "Mint" ft. Talibah Safiya

It's always nice when an artist expands their sound outside of what you knew. Of course in KAMAU's case it's a little different, he's a new artist so in a way, everything he does will be a slight expanse. That being said, "Mint" is quite different from anything off his debut EP A Gorgeous Fortune, released earlier this year.

Teaming up with Brooklyn songstress Talibah Safiya (whose solo work you can groove to HERE), KAMAU trades in his signature vocally layered beats and puts together a synth based soulful slow jam. While KAMAU had teased his vocal prowess on the EP, this is the first track where he doesn't rap at all, giving us a grand view of what he's capable of. 

"Mint" is smooth and refreshing (just like the title suggests, wouldn't ya know!), and I'm excited to see what 2017 brings to one of my favorite artists to emerge this year. 

Childish Gambino - "Redbone"

In case you didn't read my post from last week (shameful!), Childish Gambino is back! "Redbone" is his second single off his upcoming third LP, Awaken, My Love! While he delves deeper into the funky soul of things, a journey which I am ALL FOR,  don't let Camp slip from memory, lest we forget, he once gave us the fire as well! 

Oh, and here's his other single, "Me and Your Mama." Enjoy!